Red Bull may have recorded a 1–2 finish in Barcelona after Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc retired due to a power unit failure, but how Max Verstappen walked away with the victory may leave some Sergio Pérez fans fuming.
The Dutchman was ultimately prioritized over Pérez, and Red Bull principal Christian Horner defended the team’s decision to move Verstappen ahead. Pérez said at one point in the race, “Get Max out of the way so I can overtake quickly.” Later, when Pérez was leading the race with 17 laps remaining, he was told “You’re on a different strategy to Max. If he’s quicker, you let him through.”
Pérez responded, “That’s very unfair, but okay.” After the race, the Mexican driver added, “I’m happy for the team, but we need to speak later.”
Pérez had let him teammate by a few times during the Spanish Grand Prix, such as when they were both stuck behind Mercedes’s George Russell. Verstappen, though, was also struggling with his DRS (drag reduction system), which impacted his ability to pass Russell. Russell managed to keep Verstappen behind him for 19 laps.
Ultimately, the two Red Bull drivers were running on different tire strategies, Pérez on a two-stop strategy for a majority of the Grand Prix until he was told to concede the lead while Verstappen was on a three-stop strategy after spinning wide earlier in the race.
Horner said that by the end of the race, Verstappen had the tire advantage, adding , “so with oil temperatures, water temperatures [running high] and a DRS that was intermittently working it didn’t make any sense for the team to let them fight because it was an unfair fight anyway.”
He continued, “As it turned out, we had to pit Checo [Perez] anyway for the end of the race. So both drivers worked together as a team and to get the maximum points today was hugely important when Ferrari had an issue.”
Verstappen and Red Bull now lead both the driver and Constructor standings heading into this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
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